There are a number of things we can do to help your pet


Most of how we will help your pet will be medical therapy

  • We will want to delay the onset of signs for as long as possible for your pet
  • We will want to get your pet back to good quality of life
  • We will want your pet to survive for as long as possible, with good quality of life
  • The goals of therapy are to maintain your pet out of congestive heart failure for as long as possible on a minimum of medication, for them to feel well and to be playful (although they usually cannot exercise), and for them to eat well.
    • We can affect the heart in a multitude of ways, here are some of them
      • Diuretics (furosemide, spironolactone, hydrochlorthiazide, torsamide)
        • Decrease the amount of fluids that the heart has to handle
      • Inodilators (pimobendan)
        • Make the heart pump blood forward more effectively
      • Vasodilators (amlodipine, benazepril, enalapril, hydralazine, others)
        • decrease blood pressure and make it easier for the heart to pump effectively
      • Hormone system control (benazepril, enalapril, spironolactone)
        • In heart disease, circulating hormones get activated that make the disease progress
          • In some cases, decreasing these circulating hormones can improve survival
      • Rhythm disturbance control (Digoxin, Diltiazem, others)
        • Pets with mitral valve disease are not very prone to significant rhythm disturbances until late in the course of disease
          • They mostly (but not always) get rhythm disturbances from the top of the heart (the atria)
            • These affect quality of life and can return a pet into congestive heart failure
            • They rarely cause sudden death
      • Nutritional Supplements (Omega 3 Fatty Acids)
      • Diet
        •  See our Food and Diets Information page
          • A severely restricted salt diet such as “Heart diet or H/D” is often not eaten well at all by animals
          • It is more important that your pet eat and eat well, than to stick to the salt restricted diet, even if they won’t eat it.
            • The medications are powerful, and will usually work even if your pet is on regular food.
          • Do not give high salt items such as pork, lunch meats, salted popcorn or high-salt treats
      • Exercise
        • Exercise is usually moderately restricted
          • They can exercise normally if they want to
          • Restrict the amount or length of exercise
            • Restrict long ball or frisbee throwing, swimming
            • Climbing 14er’s may not be tolerated, and walking in the flats is often better
      • Monitoring
        • Monitoring at home consists of monitoring eating and activity, and to note breathing and coughing patterns. Because fluid in the lungs causes increased breathing rates as the first sign of congestive heart failure, noting breathing rates is very important. See our Resting Breathing Rates page


Surgery for heart patients is uncommon


  • Heart transplants are not performed in veterinary medicine
  • Valve repair or replacement has not had good success yet
    • This is still being investigated at certain academic institutions


Certain congenital diseases are very amenable to a surgical approach

  • Patent Ductus Arteriosus
    • an occluder device can be placed through a back leg artery using flouoroscopy
    • surgical repair has long been performed successfully

  • Pulmonic Stenosis
    • Select cases of pulmonic stenosis can have a balloon angioplasty procedure
      • This is performed through a peripheral vein

  • Pacemakers
    • We have placed many pacemakers, and are very experienced with this procedure
      • Pets feel so much better with a normal heart rate than a very slow heart rate
      • Clients are generally amazed at how much better their pet feels after a pacemaker

  • Tracheal Stents
    • With severe tracheal collapse causing breathing problems, sometimes a tracheal stent is a last resort
      • We place this through the mouth using flouoroscopy, with no incisions